Five States Face Costly HIX Challenges

Health insurance exchanges continue to be a work in progress, at least for several states that are facing ongoing challenges. In particular, 5 states-Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon-estimate that it will cost $240 million to fix their existing exchanges, or to transition to using the federal exchange.

Health insurance exchanges continue to be a work in progress, at least for several states that are facing ongoing challenges. In particular, 5 states—Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon—estimate that it will cost $240 million to fix their existing exchanges, or to transition to using the federal exchange. Some state legislators fear that using state funding for the exchanges may drain financing for other state needs such as roadwork and education.

“You can’t just print money in the states. It could come from education or other important programs,” said state representative John Delaney, (D, MD). He opposes current legislation in Maryland that would use $50 million in state funding for technology upgrades to the state’s existing exchange instead of transitioning to the federal exchange. The technology is already being utilized by Connecticut, and is cost-effective because it meets the Medicare standards required under the Affordable Care Act.

“When you consider the cost to modernize Medicaid along with joining the federal exchange, upgrading our site with Connecticut’s technology is less expensive,” said Joshua Sharfstein, a secretary of Connecticut’s department of health and mental hygiene.

Technology has been a challenge in other healthcare venues as well. The Open FDA database, a website that intends to increase public access to reports of adverse reactions to prescription drugs, is being released in a “beta” stage. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius described the data as “lazy,” adding that HHS is working to make the data relevant for perspective users.

But this work is necessary, and the technology is important to transforming healthcare as it currently exists in the United States. Used appropriately, technology could reduce the $765 billion in wasteful healthcare system spending and reduce the national debt by up to 50%.

Considering what it will take to make such a large transformation, Mark T. Bertolini, chairman, president, and CEO of Aetna, said there is good news.

“We can tackle this stunning waste in healthcare by implementing technology solutions to reduce inefficiencies, redundancies, and administrative costs. As part of an integrated model, technology can transform healthcare,” said Mr Bertolini. “If we get this right, we can create a system that keeps costs flat even as we dramatically improve the health and wellness of the American people. We can also break down the walls that make up the labyrinth we call the US healthcare system.”

Around the Web

Five States' Health-Care Exchanges See Costly Fixes [The Wall Street Journal]

The Health Data Revolution Enters An Awkward Adolescence [NPR]

How Technology Can Transform Our Healthcare Labyrinth [Forbes]